This case involves a 53 year old male from the United States who had a nagging anxiety issue. However in this case as the problem was from his childhood, he could not remember exactly what or when caused the anxiety. He just knew it had to go because it was starting to get worse and now starting to effect his life in a more significant way.
This case is not particularly unusual, however it does demonstrate one of the unique tools a clinical hypnotherapist has at their disposal that other therapists do not. That tool is the ability to regress someone back to a point earlier in their life to recover a forgotten memory that is significant to the issue at hand.
In this case the person that needed help was a well known and respected businessman in the community. From time to time his name would be mentioned on the local news stations. That itself is not significant except that overwhelming issues that require the help of some professional are blind to age, gender, social status, wealth and profession. Anybody can have an issue that needs help from another, and nobody is immune.
In this case there was something in his past that needed closure however he could not identify. We talked about the option of using Age Regression as a discovery tool. I explained to him that there were 3 types of regression and only 2 of them have some limited therapeutic value. The first was Pseudo Regression that was very light and most likely would not be strong enough to discover the distant memory that needed to be found. It is like asking you to recall what you had for breakfast yesterday and the responses are given in past tense.
The second and very powerful form of regression is called either Full or True Regression. This type of regression is best for finding the exact time and cause of what he wanted to be found. This type of regression can produce temporary amnesia to find the time of the target memory. For example if the time we were examining was before some historic and significant event such as the terrorist attack on the World Trade center in New York, there would be no knowledge of it. That then becomes a time marker and providing the information of what direction to look either further back or further ahead in time.
The third type of regression that I do not use as I see it as a novelty is Past life Regression. There is no therapeutic value in using it, and people that come to see me have enough problem with this life, so never mind past life.
So as we were only doing discovery at this point, I did not expect any closure at this stage and did not make any evaluations about potential direction of therapy. So we did some basic testing to establish what was the best method to place him in deep somnambulism, and then proceeded with the regression.
He turned out to be an excellent subject for regression. He responded in such a way that was textbook classic and worthy of a Hollywood movie. As we regressed further back in time his behavior and speaking changed based on how he acted at the particular time we were viewing. He had no knowledge of events that happened after the time we were viewing so we were able to establish if the unknown problem had been encountered yet or not.
We eventually found our way back to his first grade class as that was looking to be where the incident in question was encountered. While in regression he was talking in present tense about the friendly girl who sat in front of him with the red hair and pigtails, the class pet gerbille, and that he did not like some people in his class who were mean. He spoke as he did using both vocabulary and verbal expressions of that time in his life.
After about 15 minutes of exploring his class we suddenly hit on what we were looking for. His reaction showed he was disturbed about it and his teacher came to him and told him not to worry and they would talk about it later.
As it would be that talk with the teacher never happened and at that young age he did not have the resources to know how to deal with it. It was at this point I allowed him to retain the exact memory of what had happened and returned him to the present. When he was awakened from hypnosis he looked me in the eye and said to me, I have dealt with much worse than that. So in the matter of a minute, he resolved his own anxiety and was not in need of any further assistance.
What had happened was that as time went by, the memory of the incident morphed and was always being just too much to deal with. By the time he got his MBA, it had changed so much from what it was, it was not even close and he knew it. At that point he tucked it away in his head and it only started to become a problem when some incident he experienced years later triggered the memory. By that time his personality and behavior was that of being very thorough, and this thing was denying him that closure. He was spending more and more time trying to recall the problem, but was unable to. Eventually trying to recall the memory became an all consuming task not allowing him to do his work.